Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Granddad blogging: Into Germany

This week in granddad blogging, they make the push into Germany, he witnesses looting and they hole up.

Finally, we got in to Strausberg. Got through there then we start for Colmar and we didn’t know anything about where Colmar was or where it wasn’t or anything else.

And by the way we crossed from France into Germany at Zweibrucken that was in the industrial part of Germany and the thing I remember about that was when we got there in daylight it was the first time any of the American troops in this particular outfit had ever been in Germany and they went crazy. They tore up, they smashed up, they did everything. They went up in the second and third story of the apartments and threw furniture out the windows and knocked clocks and vases and anything that there was left in the house down and destroyed and just absolutely went wild. And that went on for a while til finally the higher-ups came in with enough MPs to make 'em quit and move out and stop that crazy destruction.

Then sometime during the fighting they moved us toward Colmar and this was the place that we were going to hold out and we didn’t know what we were going to hold for. But that’s where we were anyway and it was sort of a rough place to be, ‘cause we were laying up on a hill and looking down into Colmar and if you stuck your head out of your hole in the daytime the Germans would drop shells on you. So you had to lay in those holes all day long til it got dark, and then at night you had get out and bring water up and stretch barbed wire and dig your hole a little deeper and cover it over with stuff the keep the shells going in if they came.

[What time of year was this? January?]

Yeah, January. It’s cold. The snow was several feet deep. But it is cold. And we stayed there thirty-some days and I never took my clothes off. I never shaved. I never had a bath. You just stayed in those holes that’s all there was to it. And you patrolled at night.

And it was dangerous patrolling because the Americans had listening posts down in front of us. Those boys were awful nervous. When they’d hear a racket, if you didn’t identify yourself awful quickly you’d get shot. And then the Germans they were lookin’ to shoot you also. It was mean runnin’ patrols down through there.

People would get killed, Germans in particular. We’d see an old German soldier layin’ there face up when you go out on a patrol one night. The next night you’d go out and he’d be layin’ face down. Somebody’d rolled him over and searched the pockets and everything to see what they could find. And then they’d roll him back the other way. Roll him out, roll him over. I never would touch one of ‘em. But a lot of ‘em did. They were looking for anything and everything at the time.


Not recorded in these tapes, but something my grandfather told me was that at one point in the war he was holed up with somebody from - I believe - New Jersey, whom he did not care for at all. I believe it must have been during this time that he describes above. He told me that they had very little to eat and none of it hot food. But the Germans were announcing through loud speakers that they had hot soup, and all the Americans need do for it was surrender. The boy from New Jersey wanted some hot soup and my grandfather wanted him out of the hole, but didn't think that fellow from New Jersey any good and didn't think it would do him or the rest of the Americans any good to have that boy down there telling about their position.

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Vol-in-Law said...

I read the official Divional history of Vol's Grandad's Bill's Division a few years back; reading from that I think what he is recounting here has to have been in December 1944, not January, at the Colmar Pocket immediately prior to the Germans' last great attack, the Ardennes Offensive - the Battle of the Bulge. His unit would have been on the French-German border.

Todd Duren said...

Wow! Great stories. Is this guy your grandaddy? I'm going to blog your site and put you on my links list. Thanks for some great WWII oral history.

Vol Abroad said...

Thanks and thanks for the link.